By Erin Parlar, Legal Intern
Enrique Pena Nieto’s pending ascendancy to the presidency in Mexico has raised questions concerning his stance on climate change legislation recently enacted by current President Felipe Calderon. Under Calderon’s leadership, Mexico rose to the forefront of climate change politics, culminating in the national law he signed in June. It is unclear how Pena Nieto, who pledged in his campaign to increase Mexico’s GDP growth to around 6 percent each year, plans to implement the measure.
Pena Nieto will represent the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) when he assumes the presidency this December, bringing back the party that had a 71-year reign over Mexico prior to its loss in the 2000 elections to the Vicente Fox-led National Action Party. It is believed that the change in parties is rooted in Mexico’s stagnant economic growth, which has averaged only 2.6 percent over the last 20 years. Pena Nieto ran on a platform that promised to reinvigorate a sagging industrial sector and reform Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, to allow for more private investment. Because much of PRI’s resources during Pena Nieto’s election run came from the industrial sector and his platform has focused largely on economic issues, policy experts believe that the president-elect will take a very cautious approach to Calderon’s climate change law in the first few years of his presidency.
Mexico’s climate law aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2050. It also calls for a major increase in the use of renewable sources to supply up to 35 percent of all electricity consumption in the country and imposes mandatory reporting requirements on all major economic sectors. However, the legislation necessitates the implementation of several mechanisms, including financial incentives and an emissions trading system, to give its provisions full effect. As Calderon’s window of opportunity closes, all eyes are on Pena Nieto to see how he approaches the legislation. It is clear that the president-elect is in a privileged position regarding the future of Mexico’s approach to climate change.